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  • A successful start of the after life of FIT with the set-up of The Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF), that will officially be launched in May 2006

A successful start of the after life of FIT with the set-up of The Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF), that will officially be launched in May 2006

The FIT Network was at the heart of the different research initiatives that were launched in the period 2000 2002. In view of the contractual end of the network (February 2005) the initiative was taken to look to the future of the activities and how to continue the valuable collaboration and netwerking. A starting point for this after life was that it should endeavour to include the participation of all running research projects and networks on tunnel and safety.

Seven multinational research projects and networks were running on the topic of tunnels and safety: FIT, DARTS, UPTUN, SAFE-T, SIRTAKI, VIRTUAL FIRES and SAFETUNNEL. Five of the seven projects, funded by the European Commission, were initiated in 2001. UPTUN was initiated in 2002 and SafeT in 2003.

These projects have in common that they will end in the period 2004-2006. In total, more than 100 companies, research institutes and governmental bodies worked together in these seven projects, which represent at least twice as many involved persons. It would be a great loss if these projects and networks would simply end when their contract is finished. Valuable networks would come to an end as well, despite the crucial dissemination and exploitation phases and the need for a continuous further development of knowledge.

Having this in mind, FIT took the initiative to explore the wishes and possibilities to keep the networks of the seven projects alive and a task force consisting of representatives of all seven projects was formed. Several options and formula s were elaborated to look for the most desirable and effective formula in an ad-hoc Task Force with representatives of the different research projects and networks that was organised jointly with two FIT steering committees.

The outcome of this process is the creation of a Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities under the umbrella of ITA. The initiative is supported by PIARC. The ITA general assembly in 2005 approved this proposal with the following press release.

ITA Committee on Safety of Tunnels in Operation:
The general assembly 2005 followed the proposal of the Executive Council to create a "Committee on Safety of Tunnels in Operation". The initiative started from the 7 EU launched research projects and networks in consequence of severe fire accidents in European road tunnels during the last couple of years. The project represents about 100 institutions, research companies, academic institutes, owners and suppliers from all over Europe. The committee will be open for all interested bodies worldwide. Alfred Haack from ITA was appointed as Chairman and Didier Lacroix from PIARC as Vice Chairman.

Set at international level, this committee will act as a network which continues and extends the activities performed by the research projects and thematic networks funded under the 5th framework programme of the European Union in fields related to tunnel safety, namely DARTS, FIT, UPTUN, Safe-T, SafeTunnel, Sirtaki, Virtualfires.

The objectives of this committee are:
- Maintain and develop a network to exchange knowledge, share competences and facilitate the creation of dedicated teams and groups to perform specific (research) activities
- Facilitate co-operation worldwide.
- Possible international funding.
- Promote safety by fostering innovation, raising awareness and confidence of decision-makers, professional end-users, financers, risk managers, international forums and other stakeholders and helping to the development of regulations.

The Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF) will be officially launched in May 2006.

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